Outside of the day after the All-Star Game, last night had to be the quietest night of the baseball season.
With only seven games on the schedule, there was little for most markets in the country to watch without the special packages. A weird feeling, no doubt, but one we all were able to deal with largely thanks to the return of the NFL.
Tonight, let us turn our attention back to playoff races and matchups. Easier said than done for many.
Today will always bring back memories of the tragedy that struck eight years ago. Just as many remember where they were when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon or when John F. Kennedy was shot, this day is frozen in time. Images and remembrances will bombard the television screens and radio waves.
This space tends to shy away from aspects to society in this way, but this is a day and a feeling that we should never forget. Not only should we not forget it, but we should live the spirit that erupted in the following weeks and months continually.
After the tragedy, Americans were frightened, but we bonded like never before. It is that spirit that should be carried with us through our daily lives.
A society should never live in fear, but it should respect the culture and the standard to which they are accustomed. Many put their lives at risk that day and in the hundreds of days since in defense of the freedom we often take for granted.
So, today, do not remember 9/11 for the one day it was. Remember it for how it made you feel about your country and the men and women who protect it each day.
The everlasting image of that day should continue to be the three firemen raising the flag above the site, proving that the American spirit will never falter.
On to the notes.
- Those of you that popped over yesterday to check out the Thursday notes read that Joe Blanton has had nothing but problems with the Nationals. Those continued last night, as he lasted just 4.2 innings and gave up eight runs on seven hits while walking four. Blanton allowed two home runs, giving him six in his last four outings. In 20 innings against Washington, the Philadelphia starter has a 9.45 ERA. Oh, and he gets them again next week.
- The Royals likely took two major blows to their pitching staff yesterday. Gil Meche is likely done for the year with a shoulder problems and Brian Bannister is heading to New York for a second opinion on his. Meche failed to live up to some promise seen last season, and Bannister had rebounded to be a fringe starter in deeper leagues. Owners should take note.
- Roy Oswalt lost again to the Braves. Atlanta remains the one team that Oswalt has never beaten while pitching for the Astros. This one was just plain ugly, as Oswalt worked just two innings and allowed six earned runs in the process. He seemed healthy, but just not able to throw anything past the Atlanta bats.
- Dan Uggla entered last night's game just 7-for-43 against the Mets this season, but went 2-for-5 with a home run. Uggla hit his 25th home run, marking the fourth year in a row he has reached the mark. If you can handle the .245 average, Uggla's power is a welcome addition to any club. Careful this weekend, as he is hitting only .231 in 52 at-bats against the Nationals.
- A relatively solid pitcher's duel last night between John Lackey and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Lackey was simply better, throwing a complete game, five-hit shutout against the Mariners. Rowland-Smith allowed just three runs over seven innings, but did surrender 10 hits and a walk, not helping anyone's WHIP.
- Scott Baker lost yesterday for the first time since July 7. Baker still pitched well, allowing just three runs over 6.2 innings of work and just five hits while striking out seven. His major issue in his last two starts have been walks, and he has now put eight on via the walk in his last 12 innings.
- Jose Contreras left yesterday's game against the Reds in the second inning with an apparent leg injury. Contreras was not injured while pitching, but while running out a ground ball. No word at this point on the severity of the quad injury. The Rockies continued to play without Troy Tulowitzki, who was sidelined again. Keep him reserved until we see him in a lineup.
- Colorado also announced that they will be pushing the start of Ubaldo Jimenez from Saturday to Tuesday. Jimenez is dealing with a strained hamstring, but likely could have gone. This is more a precaution than anything else. The Rockies will use a minor league starter to cover him on Saturday.
- James Shields has actually been hit relatively hard by the Red Sox. There are some issues in the Boston lineup. Look to avoid Kevin Youkilis, as he is 3-for-23 against Shields. Jason Varitek is no better at 3-for-18 and Jacoby Ellsbury is 4-for-21. The rest of the Red Sox lineup is good to go.
- Jon Lester recorded his first win of the season against Tampa earlier this month. The lefty is very tough at home, posting a 3.38 ERA, and he is unbeaten in his two September starts. Owners should keep Akinori Iwamura and Jason Bartlett active. They have gone 8-for-24 and 9-for-19, respectively, against Lester.
- Zack Greinke is 2-0 against Cleveland this season in four starts against them. Greinke has only a .500 record on the road, but his ERA is still under 3.00. Look to use Asdrubal Cabrera against Greinke, as he has gone 9-for-17 in his career against the Kansas City starter. Shin-Soo Choo is the only other starter above .300 against Greinke.
- Joel Pineiro has won his last seven decisions, going back to July 19. At home, he has been very solid, posting a 2.62 ERA and .247 BAA in 62.1 innings of work. Pineiro has beaten the Braves once already this season, and continues to be a pleasant surprise for deep league owners. Good start in this one.
- Andre Ethier is hitting .567 against Matt Cain in 30 at-bats. Keep Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp active as well. Orlando Hudson is the toughest bet in the Dodger lineup. He is only 2-for-21 against Cain. At home, Cain is tough, having gone 6-2 this season with batters hitting only .227 against him.
- Jorge De La Rosa has not been stellar against the Padres, but he has only allowed them to hit .211 against him in three starts. He simply has fallen victim to the long ball on a few instances over 12 innings of work. De La Rosa has been solid in the second half of the season, and is a solid start in the big ballpark against a struggling offense.
- Andy Pettitte has given up just two earned runs in his last 14 innings of work at home, and he tends to pitch very well against the Orioles. Look to avoid the 2-for-21 of Ty Wiggington and the 0-for-9 of Luke Scott in this matchup. Pettitte's season at home has not been fantastic, but Baltimore is putting up a lot of young, impatient hitters and that plays well to Pettitte's strengths.
- After a series of rough starts, Joe Saunders is now riding a five-game winning streak heading into the game tonight against the White Sox. Saunders has allowed just four earned runs in those three starts, showing that something seems to have clicked. Gavin Floyd has really struggled on the road, posting an ERA well over 5.00. Should mean even an average start by Saunders would be good for a win.
- Cole Hamels has been lit up by the Mets in two starts this season. Hamels has given up 21 hits in just 10 innings of work. The Mets do not have a ton to throw at him, but it seems to simply be the uniform, as he is only 1-4 against the Mets since 2006.
- Spot Starts: Joel Pineiro, Doug Davis, Jorge De La Rosa
- This dance has been done before. The Red Sox do not hit pitchers that they have never seen well. The Red Sox have never seen Wade Davis pitch before. Therefore, the Red Sox will struggle getting hits off the prospect. Do yourself a favor and avoid any non-essential Red Sox in this one Saturday.
- If, and it is a big if, Alfonso Soriano is going to play, it will be against Johnny Cueto. He, along with the rest of the Cubs' lineup, have done some serious damage against the Cincinnati starter. Soriano is 8-for-18 with three home runs. Start as many as you can, since the bulk of the order is at or above .300.
- Jamie Moyer is scheduled to make another start in place of J.A. Happ on Saturday. Happ continues to be bothered by the strained oblique muscle that forced him to miss his last start. While Carlos Beltran has been back, he is only a .230 hitter against Moyer. Make sure to start David Wright as always, considering he is hitting .432 against the lefty.
- As nice a surprise as Ross Ohlendorf has been this season, he has struggled away from home. In 12 starts, he is 3-7 with a 5.55 ERA and a .296 BAA. The Astros have hit him very well this season. Ohlendorf has not recorded a win in two starts against them, allowing 16 hits and eight earned runs over 10 innings.
- While Edwin Jackson has not done it efficiently, he has won five of his last six decisions going back seven starts. The issue is he has allowed at least three earned runs in five of those starts while getting beyond the sixth inning in just two. Jackson does get to pitch at home against a Toronto team that is struggling. Continue to trust him here.
- Brandon Phillips is just 2-for-22 against the Sunday starter for the Cubs, Ted Lilly. Joey Votto, on the other hand, is hitting .313 with two home runs and eight RBI in just 16 at bats. Do not expect much from the Cincinnati offense. Lilly is 7-1 at home this season with a 1.72 ERA.
- Look to keep Nelson Cruz in the lineup against Felix Hernandez, but that is about it in terms of your Rangers. Cruz is 7-for-22 with a home run, and it the only likely starter outside of Chris Davis hitting above .300 against Hernandez. Josh Hamilton is only 2-for-21 against the Seattle starter.
- Good numbers from Mark DeRosa against Javier Vazquez. DeRosa is 8-for-25 with a home run against the starter. Vazquez is tough on the road, and reaching in the St. Louis lineup as a result is not the best idea. He has gone 8-2 away from home while posting an ERA of 3.05.
- John Maine will take the ball in the first game of the double-header against the Phillies on Sunday. Maine threw a simulated game on Thursday and will be finally returning to the mound after suffering from shoulder weakness. Do not look to get him right back in your lineup. See how he performs before inserting him in to any playoff rotation.
- Matt Garza remains undefeated against the Red Sox in 2009 in five starts. Garza has largely owned the Boston lineup going back to last season. Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis are both over .300, but the rest of the lineup should be on hold if you have better options. David Ortiz is only 2-for-21, but both hits were home runs.
- Spot Starts: Clay Buchholz, Tommy Hunter, Carlos Carrasco, Wade Davis, Randy Wells, Tim Hudson